If you’re planning a career change, you’ve probably searched through multiple professions.
Some may require extensive education, while with others, you can jump into it right away.
In this article, we’re exploring one of the professions of this type.
It does require training, but you don’t need specialized education or certification to start.
Being physically capable, you could easily get hired and do this job for many years ahead.
So, you’ll find out about the material handler job and various aspects that come with it.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Material Handler Do
Material handlers process, distribute, and move materials.
These can include both hazardous and non-hazardous, depending on the area of employment.
These duties may sound quite simple, but in reality, there are many details that make this job pretty in-depth from A to Z.
Because of the danger that comes with this job, there are strict procedures and structures to the work environment.
This helps reduce the chance of harm to a material handler.
With every job, there comes a detailed plan, so the workers know exactly what they will be doing.
Other Titles of a Material Handler
If you’re looking for a job as a material handler, you may come across other names for this position.
So, you should also look for the titles, such as:
- Warehouse associate.
- Senior material handler.
- Material handler — OSHA forklift certification required.
Not all of these titles come with the same responsibilities, however, many of them overlap.
Depending on the type of work of the material handler, responsibilities can vary greatly.
They can change every day based on the type of material they work with, and how hazardous they may be.
Regardless of the workplace and type of material handlers work with, all of them share certain basic tasks.
For instance, those who work with non-hazardous materials have to deliver production supplies and materials, pull orders from the inventory, stage the finished product.
Other common tasks for material handlers are the following:
- Maintaining and keeping inventory by identifying & labeling, and stocking materials.
- Periodically check the inventory to ensure that all materials and supplies in stock are correct.
- Keeping a full database of the locations of all items.
- Ensuring items are prepared in time before shipment by pulling, crating, packing, loading and securing the product.
- Keep accurate records and documentation of everything that is shipped.
- Ensuring the inspections and maintenance of the equipment used every day.
- Be prepared to load and unload various materials from trucks using the right equipment throughout the day.
- Be able to use common tools such as manual jacks, clamp trunk, dollies, and lift trucks.
- Know how to operate overhead doors, trailer restraints, dock plates, banding, and wrapping equipment in practice.
- Know how to properly use computerized scales for counting and weighing goods.
- Maintain the working area keeping it clean and in order.
- Be flexible and ready for any random task your supervisor may need you to do.
- Know the procedures for handling hazardous or dangerous materials; may have special certificates or licenses as per legal standards for this.
A wide range of skills is required for the position of a material handler to do the job, including:
- Organization skills.
- Time management skills.
- Contribute to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
- Safety management.
- Data entry skills.
- Analyzing information.
- Heavy lifting as necessary.
- Inventory control.
- Dealing with complexity in instructions, paperwork, and other details.
- Schedule skills.
- Process improvement capabilities.
There are some qualifications every material handler should meet, including:
- 18+ years old.
- A valid driver’s license.
- Being able to lift weights from 60 to 100 pounds.
- Valid and up-to-date OSHA forklift operation certificate.
- Some schedule flexibility to work on weekends, holidays, early mornings, or evenings.
- A minimum of one year of experience in inventory management.
- Highly detail-oriented.
- Being able to operate a handheld scanner quickly and accurately to find items.
- Read and understand the shipping documents.
- Strong English oral and written communication skills.
- Advanced math skills.
- Computer and typing skills, including Microsoft Outlook, Suite, and other related software.
- The ability to run various types of propane or electric-powered forklifts and clamp trucks.
Training and Education
Almost any other profession requires higher education, but it’s quite rare for a material handler to be required to hold a bachelor’s degree.
As long as you can pass a few exams and training issues, a high school diploma or GED is enough.
A physical examination will be required to ensure that you are capable of performing such a job.
Additionally, a math exam will be needed ensuring that you can calculate and examine the shipping documents quickly.
Some material handlers need to have a valid driver’s license, however, it is rarely a requirement for in-warehouse positions.
Typically, employers provide their employees with specific training required for the position.
It can be carried out in-house or at an outside training facility that is properly certified for training hazardous material handling.
This certification is required for anyone working with mold or asbestos.
To qualify for a position like this, you may receive training and license from one of the following agencies:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- U.S. Department of Energy.
- Mine Safety and Health Administration.
- U.S. Environment Protection Agency – EPA.
Many employers also require at least two years of experience working in factories or warehouses, or similar establishments.
Since the job of a material handler is precise, you need to pass the basic physical health examination as well as be able to do the following:
- Have the ability to stand for several hours at a time.
- Have a full range of motion in all joints.
- Have the ability to walk for an entire shift.
- Have full motor skills in body parts.
- Have the ability to lift up to 100 pounds repeatedly throughout a single workday.
Generally, material handlers are employed at warehouses or manufacturing plants.
From there, they move materials and products to other locations.
They would have to search for specific materials on shelves, wrap them, and load them onto the trucks.
They may also have to unload materials from trucks, properly organize them in storage and shelves.
The production areas should be fully stocked, filled with the products necessary to fulfill orders quickly.
Material handlers often work long shifts and stay on their feet for a long time.
Since they have to lift and move boxes all day, they need to be fairly strong.
On average, material handlers make $34,166 per year across the country.
The highest salary is $45,000 and the lowest is at $26,000.
The higher-paying positions will require more advanced certifications and more hazards on the worksite.
If you are interested in this position, you should remember that this job can be physically demanding, challenging, but interesting.
If you can acquire the proper certification and are willing to put in the labor hours, it can be a great opportunity.
You don’t need the education higher than a high school diploma and can get the position easier than other labor-intensive positions.